Use Data to Spot and Solve Problems

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Energy marketers can derive important information about their businesses from the data they collect, according to software CEOs who specialize in fuel delivery.

Gary Sullivan, CEO of Automated Wireless Environments, said fuel delivery companies are affected by rapid changes in price, weather and other factors, and managers can improve the bottom line by adapting quickly.

Automated Wireless’s flagship E-SYS software is equipped with dashboards that provide real time views into pricing, accounts receivable and other data. “E-SYS is our enterprise software that runs the office from lubes to heating oil to gas – the whole nine yards of what you do in an oil business, but no general ledger or payroll, just the heart of the business,” Sullivan said.

E-SYS also includes a custom reports builder that managers can use to extract specific information about recent deliveries. “With the custom reports, you can take it a lot of different ways yourself,” he said, noting it is easy to custom-build reports and have them delivered by e-mail.

Sullivan said it is important for energy marketers to gather data continuously and use it to solve problems. “It can be the difference between being very successful and struggling,” he said. For example, a manager could spot on an E-SYS dashboard that there were a number of no-entry service calls and realize that there was an unforeseen problem, such as a replacement dispatcher who failed to follow company procedure of calling customers two hours before a service call. “The problem occurred this morning, and you can fix it by noon,” he said. Similarly, a manager could learn from a report that gallons delivered per hour was low and then find the cause and solve the problem, such as a dispatcher pulling tickets too early or a problem with the degree day counter.

For marketers who want to draw data from different sources such as payroll and accounting. E-SYS is tightly integrated with Angus Performance Advisors’ Brite  software.  (See article on next page.)

Deriving actionable intelligence from company data is also a high priority at Blue Cow Software, according to CEO Mark Nardone. Customers can use Blue Cow’s Analytics software to probe data collected in the core product, Ignite, and produce reports.

Finding useful information in data is a key to succeeding in energy marketing, according to Nardone. “If you don’t have good information, you’re just guessing at how you should run your business,” he said, noting that many of the prospective clients he meets have been making decisions based on “what they think is going on,” rather than on concrete information.

Analytics makes it easy for a dealer to track key metrics like delivers per hour, gallons per hour and, on the service side, billable hours. The software also makes company data more usable by enabling managers to query the data. A manager can view all their automatic delivery accounts or all their budget plans. They can also use a recent enhancement that enables them to see top 10 lists, such as their 10 largest customers.

The system also assigns a ranking for every account, based on how good they are for the company. For instance, it can add points if the customer is on automatic delivery or subtract points if they have a lot of service calls. “This helps CSRs see who the best customers are and allows managers to look at the lowest-rated accounts and see if they are worth keeping,” Nardone said.

Another benefit to a system like Analytics is that managers can analyze data in real time, spot trends and make adjustments. “You can decide on the profit margin you want and see if you are making that today or this month,” he explained. “Their decisions are more intelligent, because they have that information.” Analytics also enables a manager to analyze the effects of different activities, such as how effectively the company is using degree day forecasting to prevent run-outs.

In addition to its own Analytics software, Blue Cow Ignite can also interface with Angus Performance Advisors’ Brite BI software.

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